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The Bullet Train star’s debut fragrance campaign perfectly embodies his adventurous spirit and approach to self-care

Rogue fire alarms and building works couldn’t keep Aaron Taylor-Johnson from sharing his affinity for slow living and the outdoors.

With three films slated for release this year, it’s clear that downtime is a rarity these days for the 33-year old actor. “I don’t know what a day off is anymore,” says Taylor-Johnson, laughing. “If I’m home in the countryside, I’m either gardening or cooking, or taking long walks. It makes me feel grounded.” He’s speaking to me today from the luxurious surroundings of his suite in Claridge’s. “My job takes me all around the world; I get to meet new people and I get to do the thing that I’ve always dreamt about as a kid,” he continues. “I never lose sight of how exciting it is. But to avoid burnout, I think the most relaxing thing to do is just being immersed in nature.”

His latest project as Giorgio Armani’s new Acqua di Giò ambassador took him to the hills of Croatia, where Taylor-Johnson found himself training with an Olympian to finesse his swan dive. But impressive campaign imagery aside, how does he really feel about fragrance?

“Perfume evokes such a powerful response for most people. It’s another layer to your skin; it’s your personality, it’s the way you walk into a room and the way you leave the room. There’s an aura around you,” he explains. For a man who’s passionate about nature, Acqua Di Giò, with its aquatic notes, fits his personality to a tee.

“It’s a refreshing, rejuvenating scent that is like the salt in the sea, the minerals of the sea,” says Taylor-Johnson, who finds the citrus elements in Acqua di Giò reminiscent of Sicilian lemon groves. “It really transports you straight to a place of joy and bliss.”

His approach to scenting is subtle, preferring instead to have “people lean in” rather than overpower a room. It’s clear that the seaside is a special place for the Bullet Train actor. “What I get from being in the ocean is very much a feeling of cleansing one’s soul,” he muses. “It feels very much like a ritualistic thing. When you dive in deep and you’re coming back up, you feel alive.”

Rituals are a recurring theme during our conversation. Taylor-Johnson notes that he likes “having a routine, because ironically, structure gives you the freedom to be you”. He’s a fan of early starts, rising at 5.30am for a 10-to-20 minute meditation before heading to the gym, doing the school run and starting the work day.

“That time for myself is beneficial for my clarity. I’m super creative, my head’s constantly going, so it feels like a way to reset and be calm, so that I can be on-point for my kids and everybody else.” His grooming routine is equally grounded, focusing instead to keep things au naturel save for hair oil in his curls (his signature haircut is often courtesy of hairdresser Daniel Erdman). “I enjoy growing out my hair. It feels like I’m not conforming. I like to be outside the box, there’s a little bit of fluidity and freedom to it.”

What’s on the inside matters too, of course, and Taylor-Johnson has a flourishing farm in rural Somerset. “I grew up with a very poor diet. Only later in life did I enjoy cooking and I love the ingredients,” he tells me. “They’ve got to be fresh and organic. I have a vegetable garden and I’m going to add some chickens for fresh eggs.”

A nourishing diet, coupled with plenty of hydration and, of course, dedicated fitness hours are all integral to the physicality of the roles he takes on from the assassin Tangerine in Bullet Train to the titular character in Marvel’s upcoming Kraven The Hunter. It’s a good thing Taylor-Johnson leans into the adventurous, as captured by his Acqua di Giò campaign. “There’s a liberating feeling of diving into the unknown. I also wanted to convey that narrative for Acqua di Giò; it’s breaking the mould, breaking the boundaries, and just taking that leap of faith,” he says. Jumping off a cliff takes courage, but that’s just what drew Taylor-Johnson in. “It was part of me saying, can I try something that’s a little bit scary? You’ve got to have a little bit of fear.”

Next on his bucket list? “Parachute out of an aeroplane,” he says thoughtfully. Filmmakers, take note.

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